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Last Modified: March 22, 2014

The Scottish Rite Creed

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.

The two "Rites" of Freemasonry are generally recognized; the "York Rite", which many think should more properly be called the American Rite (Royal Arch Chapters, Councils of Royal and Select Masters, Commanderies) and the "Scottish Rite" of thirty three degrees. Both Rites have their roots in symbolic Masonry, and no man in the United States, Canada, England, Ireland or Scotland may be initiated into either York or Scottish Rite who is not already a member of a Blue Lodge.

While the Scottish Rite has thirty-three degrees, numbered from 1 to 33, the Supreme Councils of the English speaking countries do not assume any authority over the first three degrees where there exists a Grand Lodge which adheres to the Landmarks of freemasonry and continues regular, legitimate and duly constituted and which refrains from interfering with the administration of the Fourth to Thirty-third Degrees inclusive by the Supreme Council. The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite goes so deeply into the past for much of its symbolism and philosophy that its origins are lost in the mists of antiquity from which emerges history.

History of the Scottish Rite

In 1761 the first "secret" Constitutions was framed; in 1762, the "Constitutions and Regulations", these, with the later Constitutions of 1786, are its fundamental law. The first Lodge of Perfection was established in this country in Albany, New York, as early as 1767. The first council of Princes of Jerusalem was organized at Charleston, South Carolina, in 1788. The first Sublime council of Princes of the Royal Secret (of Twenty-five degrees; the 25 was then the highest of the Rite of Perfection) was established at Charleston, South Carolina, in 1797. The real establishment of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite dates from 1801, when the first Supreme Council, now the Mother Supreme council of the World, was established in Charleston. Subsequently, under the provisions of the Grand Constitutions, a second Supreme Council was formed and the original council took the name of "The Supreme Council 33, for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States of America." It is the oldest existing council and, therefore, the Mother Council of the World, from which all Supreme Councils of the Rite hold, either mediately or immediately. Thus the original Jurisdiction became two by act of the Supreme Council, which in 1813 established the Northern Supreme Council with, originally, fourteen States: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. At that time the present State of Wisconsin was a portion of Illinois territory, becoming a part of Michigan in 1818. Hence the Northern Jurisdiction now comprises fifteen States of the Union. The Southern Jurisdiction, retaining the rest of the United States and whatever territory may become a part of it and also those countries where the Supreme council has or may hereafter establish Bodies of the Rite, comprises thirty-three States; Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming; it also includes the District of Columbia, the Army and Navy (shared with the Northern Supreme Council),China, Japan, Hawaii, Philippine Islands, Puerto Rico, the Canal Zone and Alaska. These two Jurisdictions have always worked, and now work, in complete harmony, the separation being geographic only. The Scottish Rite is sometimes called Continental Masonry because it had its origin from the Rites practiced on the Continent of Europe which later crystallized into the Scottish Rite through the constitutions of 1761, 1762 and 1786. It is also known and practiced on the Continents of Europe and North and South America, in Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, etc.

In the Southern Jurisdiction the Lodge of Perfection confers the Ineffable degrees from the 4th to the 14th; the Chapter of Rose Croix confers the Historical and Second Temple degrees, 15th and 16th, and the Religious degrees, 17th and 18th; the Council of Kadosh confers the Chivalric and Philosophical degrees, from 19th to the 30th inclusive, and the Consistory completes the series by conferring the Official degrees, 31st and 32nd. In the Northern Jurisdiction the Lodge of Perfection confers the 4th to the 14th, inclusive; the Council of Princes of Jerusalem, the 15th and 16th; the Chapter of Rose Croix, the 17th and 18th; and the Consistory the 19th to 32nd, inclusive. In Canada there are but three Bodies, Lodge of Perfection, Chapter of Rose Croix and Consistory.

The Thirty-third Degree of the Rite differs from others in that for it no one may ask; it must be given. In the Southern Jurisdiction a brother receives first the distinction of being names K.C.C.H. (Knight Commander of the Court of Honor). From those of this rank the Supreme Council chooses those who may receive the 33, Inspector General Honors. The Northern Supreme council does not award the distinction of K.C.C.H. These honors are given for merit, long or distinguished service to the rite, the Craft or to humanity, and are highly prized. Those who have received the 33 wear a triple band ring, sometimes plain, sometimes bearing a triangle with the figures 33 within it.

The Scottish Rite is wholly non-sectarian. It is deeply religious in character, but in the same sense that Symbolic Masonry is religious - it teaches religion, not a religion. Both Northern and Southern Supreme Councils observe the ceremonies of Extinguishing and Relighting the Symbolic Lights; the first on Maundy Thursday (Thursday before Easter), the latter either immediately following or upon Easter Sunday. These ceremonies are perhaps as beautiful and impressive as any degree in any rite, unforgettable by any who have ever seen or taken part in them.

It is impossible, of course, to describe the degrees of the Scottish Rite. Nor are the degrees the same in the Northern and Southern Supreme Councils. In the latter, the rituals are largely the result of Albert Pike's revision and spiritualization of older rituals. In the Northern Jurisdiction, while many of the degrees follow the Mother Council's ritual in form, some of the ceremonies are entirely different. Scottish Rite degrees usually are, and always should be when possible, put on in costume land by carefully trained casts. Many of the ceremonies are very elaborate, requiring a small army of workers; when well done, they attract brethren from many miles away. Indeed, so difficult are some of the ceremonies, and so extensive the facilities and preparation required, that many are seen but once or twice a year, and in but a few centers in any State. From this has arisen that custom which Scottish Rite Masons know as the "Reunion" - a gathering of Scottish Rite Masons from all over a State to see and take part in the degrees given to a "class"; such Reunions not uncommonly last a week. Not all Bodies of the Rite put on all the degrees in any one Reunion. Those which are omitted are communicated, and often those not "worked" in one reunion are staged in the next. In any "class" the final degrees in each of the four bodies are invariably staged. Elective and appointed officers in each of the bodies may take part in degrees, but do not necessarily do so. The degrees are elaborate, costumed ceremonies, many of them requiring a much larger cast than could be supplied from an official line. The ceremonies are difficult and intricate, their scenic investiture large; they offer great opportunities for workers who have talent and ability. Teams for the various degrees frequently remain intact for long periods of time, the brethren perfecting themselves from year to year until they are, literally, "Past Masters" in their work. The initiate usually sees a spectacle "The degrees are put on before the candidates rather than worked upon them) which is in the hands of trained experts, many of whom have done the same part for years.

In the earlier degrees that "further light", which is hinted at in the Blue Lodge, is given and questions which many Master Masons ask after they are raised to the Sublime Degree are answered with solemnity and reverence. Later, matters wholly new to Master Masons are taken up, and a wealth of philosophy, religion, and knowledge made available for the postulant. The fourth to the thirty-second degrees of the Scottish Rite, beautiful and inspiring as they are, should not be, as they often are, called "Higher Degrees" connotating an elevation, a superiority, over the first three degrees. "I'm only a Blue Lodge Mason - I never went any higher" - how often is that semiapologic statement made! The greatest authorities in the Scottish Rite are emphatic in the statement that neither that Rite nor any other can make a man more of a Mason than he becomes in the Blue Lodge. The degrees can, and frequently do, make him a better Mason, just as the labor required to earn a college degree can, and often does, make a man a better, but not more a citizen than he was before he passed through college. The Scottish Rite degrees are numerically greater than the first, second and third, but not "higher".  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.

The Scottish Rite is governed by a Supreme Council in each Jurisdiction, just as Symbolic Masonry is governed by a Grand Lodge in each Jurisdiction. But the composition of a Supreme Council and a Grand Lodge is wholly different. The Grand Lodge consists of the Masters and Wardens of Blue Lodges, and certain permanent members (Past Grand Masters, Grand Officers, in some Grand Jurisdictions Past Masters, etc.), Supreme Councils in this country are limited to thirty-three Active Members (Southern Jurisdiction). Sixty-six Active Members (Northern Jurisdiction). These Active Members (All having previously attained the 33 degree) are elected by their fellows and for life. In the Southern Jurisdiction the officers of the Supreme Council are elected for life; in the Northern Supreme Council, for three years, but the principal officers are almost invariably reelected, so that tenure is usually for life. Scottish Rite Masons in many States have erected and occupy beautiful and impressive buildings, especially designed and equipped for Scottish Rite work. One of the most, if not the most, beautiful Masonic structure in the world is the "House of the Temple" home of the Supreme Council S.J. in Washington, D.C. Sessions of the Supreme Council are held in it every two years.

There are four coordinate divisions in the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction

1. Lodge of Perfection, 4th degree to 14th degree

2. Chapter of Rose Croix, 15th degree to 18th  

3. Council of Kadosh, 19th degree to 30th degree 

4. Consistory 31st to 32nd and the 33rd degree

Lessons of the Scottish Degrees:

Lodge of Perfection

4th degree Secret Master. The Fourth Degree emphasizes duty, fidelity, integrity, and the necessity for secrecy in all confidential relationships.

5th degree Perfect Master. This degree teaches that trustworthiness is more precious than life and is the foundation of Masonic honor. In addition, we must pay due resect to the memory of a deceased worthy Brother.

6th degree Intimate Secretary. This degree teaches that devotion to ones friends and zealousness in per-forming ones duties are rewarding virtues.

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.

8th degree Intendant of the Building. This degree teaches that each new honor is meant to be a step toward perfection in the moral code.

9th degree 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.

10th degree 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

11th degree 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.

12th degree 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.

13th degree 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

14th degree 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 taketh His Name in vain. Council of Princes of Jerusalem

Chapter of Rose Croix

15th degree Knight of the East or Sword This degree teaches the important lessons of loyalty to conviction and devotion to right.

16th degree Prince of Jerusalem This degree teaches loyalty to truth and fidelity to duty.

17th degree Knight of the East and West The lessons of this degree are that loyalty to God is mans primary allegiance, and the temporal governments not founded upon God and His righteousness will inevitably fall.

18th degree Knight of the Rose Croix 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.

Council of Kadosh

19th degree 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.

20th degree 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 that conspire against the security of the nation and the happiness of our people.

21st degree 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.

22nd degree 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.

23rd degree 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

24th degree 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

25th degree 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.

26th degree 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.

27th degree 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.

28th degree 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 mans determined quest for the achievement of unity and good will throughout the world

29th degree 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.

30th degree Grand Elect Knight Kadosh This degree sets forth the tests and ceremonies that symbolize the experiences we must undergo in the building of excellence in character.


31st degree 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.

32nd degree 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.

The double-headed eagle is also the symbol of the 32nd degree Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret and probably the best known. The double-headed eagle was probably first accepted by Masonry, as a symbol, in the year 1758. In that year the body calling itself the Council of Emperors of the East and West was established in Paris. The double-headed eagle was in all probability adopted by this Council, which claimed a double jurisdiction; one head inclined to the East to guard any and all who might approach from that direction, the other head guarding the West for a like purpose. The Council adopted a ritual of twenty-five degrees, all of which are now contained in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, to which eight more were added so as to make thirty-three Degrees of which our Rite is now composed.


The Eagle, as a symbol, is rooted in antiquity. According to Albert G. Mackey the great Masonic encyclopedist, the bird was sacred to the sun in Egypt, Greece, and Persia. To the pagans it was an emblem of Jupiter, that is, the Greek Zeus, god of moral law and order, protector of suppliants and punisher of guilt. Among the Druids, a religious order of the ancient Celts, it was a symbol of their Supreme Being. Reference is frequently made to the eagle in the Scriptures.


Among the pagans, the eagle symbolized great strength and endurance as evidenced by its keen sight, aerial prowess and resourcefulness in outwitting its prey, never wanting for its daily necessities.


Cicero, Roman Orator, Statesman and man of letters, in speaking of the myth of Ganymede -- The beautiful shepherd boy who was carried to Olympus by Zeus in the form of an eagle to be the cupbearer of the mythical gods --states that ‘it teaches us that the truly wise, irradiated by the shining light of virtue, become more and more like God, until by wisdom they are borne aloft and soar to Him.”


And so goes the story of the Double Headed Eagle. May its shining light of virtue guide and guard our pathway of life

Thirty -Third Degree

The 33rd degree is conferred upon those members of the 32 degree who have been outstanding in their contributions to Freemasonry who have shown in their communities the leadership which marks them as men who exemplify in their daily lives the true meaning of the Brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God. It cannot be sought by application, but must be such a man as described above. He must be not less than 33 years of age, and may be elected at an Annual Meeting of the Supreme Council a Sovereign Grand Inspector General of the Thirty third and Last Degree. Such election shall be by unanimous vote of the Active Members present taken by secret ballot The degree is conferred at the Annual Meeting of the Supreme Council succeeding the election of a candidate

Caps and their Significance

As the White Lambskin is the Badge of a Mason, so is the regulation cap the badge of a Scottish Rite Mason.

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.

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

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

A black cap indicates that the wearer has attained the 32°.

The Supreme Council has set forth a rule for the correct wearing of the cap. When wearing a 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 18°. The wearing of caps is considered proper at Reunions, Scottish Rite meetings. Maundy Thursday services, etc. It is improper for the cap to be worn in cafes, bus stations, on the street, or in any other public place

Mottos of the Craft


Ordo ab Chao

Spes Mea in Deo Est

In Deo Fiducia Nostra

Order Out of Chaos

My Faith is in God

Our Trust is in God

Some Reasons why Master Masons join the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry

To every Master Mason who is desirous of more light and a better understanding of Freemasonry, the Scottish Rite appeals, because:

  • IT offers an unsurpassed field for the study of Masonry.

  • IT enlarges upon and explains and applies the symbols of Masonry.IT exemplifies and makes clear the truths and allegory of the Blue Lodge.

  • IT presents an unequaled opportunity for the practical demonstration of the teachings of Freemasonry.

  • IT gives you a fellowship in its literature, with the deepest minds and purest character of Freemasonry.

  • IT allows you to participate in the glorious work of spreading the propaganda of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man.

  • IT gives you a greater incentive to higher thoughts and nobler deeds, because of a greater knowledge of your responsibilities and the history of the institutions of the Scottish Rite.

  • IT creates within you a greater love for chivalry; a greater respect for philosophy, and a never-ending love for your mother Lodge.

  • IT enjoins on every Brother the support of the American Public School, non-partisan, non-sectarian, efficient, democratic; for all the children of the people; equal educational opportunities for all.

  • IT inculcates patriotism, love of the flag, respect for law and order and undying loyalty to constitutional government.

  • IT carries out the sublime principles of Masonry by cooperating in every way with the Blue Lodge, by maintaining an ever-increasing interest in Masonry.

  • IT brings the Brethren from various Lodges together at frequent intervals whereby the spirit of Brotherhood and Fraternity is reflected in everyday living.

To those who are interested in securing a broader understanding of Freemasonry and desirous of enlisting in a campaign as a militant champion of the American Public School and upholding and fostering of the American Way of Life, the Scottish Rite is an effective instrument for the promotion and maintenance of these objectives

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Last modified: March 22, 2014