The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite is one of several different rites of the worldwide fraternity known as freemasonry. A rite is a series of progressive degrees that are conferred by various Masonic organizations or bodies that all operate under the control of one central authority. Other rites include the Swedish Rite, French Rite, Rectified Scottish Rite, etc.

The thirty-three degrees of the Scottish Rite are conferred by several different controlling bodies. The first of the these is the Craft Lodge which confers the Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason degrees. Although most lodges throughout the United States use an American Webb-form version of the degrees, there are a handful of lodges in New Orleans and in several other major cities that have traditionally conferred the Scottish Rite version of these degrees. All Craft Lodges operate under the control of a Grand Lodge for the country, province or state where they are located. Therefore, although they confer the Scottish Rite version of these degrees, they are not controlled by the Scottish Rite.

The Scottish Rite, as it usually referred to, forms one of the more important appendant bodies of Freemasonry that a Master Mason may join for further exposure to principles of Freemasonry. In England and some other countries, the order is not accorded official recognition by the Grand Lodge, however there is no prohibition against a Freemason electing to join. In the United States, however, the Scottish Rite is officially recognized by Grand Lodges as an official extension of the degrees of Freemasonry.

In the United States the Scottish Rite is complemented by the York Rite, which encompasses some of the diverse range of appendant bodies available elsewhere. In reality, however, the York Rite is actually a collection of several rites, each being separately controlled by their own governing bodies.

The Scottish Rite builds upon the ethical teachings and philosophy offered in the Blue Lodge, or Craft Lodge, through dramatic presentation.

Notable members of this order include Albert Pike, Buzz Aldrin, Gerald Ford, Bob Dole, John Wayne, Michael Richards, Arnold Palmer, Henry Ford, and John Glenn.


The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in each country is governed by a Supreme Council. There is no international governing body, each country's Supreme Council being sovereign unto itself.

In the United States of America there are two Supreme Councils headquartered in Washington, DC, and Lexington, Massachusetts, individual states are referred to as "Orients," and local bodies are called "Valleys". Each Valley has four Scottish Rite bodies: the Lodge of Perfection controls the 4th through the 14th degrees, the Chapter of Rose Croix controls the 15th through the 18th degrees, the Council of Kadosh controls the 19th through the 30th degrees, and the Consistory controls the 31st and 32nd Degrees. The Supreme Council controls and confers the 33rd Degree of Inspector General.

In the United States the Lexington, Massachusetts based Northern Masonic Jurisdiction oversees fifteen orients in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and Vermont.

Orients in the other thirty-five states, districts and territories in the United States are overseen by the Southern Jurisdiction. Based in Washington, D.C., the Southern Jurisdiction is the "Mother Supreme Council of the World," being the first Supreme Council, and was founded in Charleston, South Carolina in 1801. The Northern Masonic Jurisdiction was formed in 1813.

In the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States, the Supreme Council consists of no more than 33 members. The Supreme Council is presided over by a Grand Commander. Other members of the Supreme Council are called "Sovereign Grand Inspectors General" (S.G.I.G.), and each is the head of the Rite in his respective Orient (or state). Other heads of the various Orients who are not members of the Supreme Council are called "Deputies of the Supreme Council."

In the Northern Jurisdiction the Supreme Council consists of no more than 66 members. The head of the Rite in each Orient of the Northern Jurisdiction is called a "Deputy of the Supreme Council."

In England, whose Supreme Council was warranted by that of the Northern Jurisdiction of the U.S.A, the Rite is known colloquially as "Rose Croix" or more formally as "The Ancient and Accepted Rite" (continental European jurisdictions retain the "Écossais"). The only local bodies are "Chapters"; many degrees are conferred in name only, and degrees beyond the 18° are conferred only by the Supreme Council itself.

The Degrees

Attainment of the third Masonic degree, that of a Master Mason, represents the attainment of the highest rank in all of Masonry. Any Master Mason stands as an equal before every other Master Mason, regardless of position, class, or other degrees. Additional degrees are sometimes referred to as appendant degrees, even where the degree numbering might imply a hierarchy. Appendant degrees represent a lateral movement in Masonic Education rather than an upward movement. These are not degrees of rank, but rather degrees of instruction.

In many countries, some Craft Lodges use Scottish Rite ritual in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd degrees.

In the United States, members of the Scottish Rite can be elected to receive the 33rd Degree by the Supreme Council, the governing body of the Rite. It is conferred on members who have made major contributions to society or to Masonry in general. Because of this, some have incorrectly called the 33rd Degree an "honorary" degree, and have even referred to its recipients as "honorary 33rd Degree Masons." This is incorrect. There is only one 33rd Degree in the Scottish Rite, and all recipients receive the same degree.

The titles of the degrees in the Southern Jurisdiction are as follows[1]. Titles for some degrees are different in the Northern Jurisdiction. These titles are in parentheses where they occur[2]:

1° Entered Apprentice
2° Fellowcraft
3° Master Mason
4° Secret Master
5° Perfect Master
6° Intimate Secretary
7° Provost and Judge
8° Intendant of the Building
9° Elu of the Nine (Master Elect of the Nine)
10° Elu of the Fifteen (Master Elect of the Fifteen)
11° Elu of the Twelve (Sublime Master Elected)
12° Master Architect (Grand Master Architect)
13° The Royal Arch of Solomon (Master of the Ninth Arch)
14° Perfect Elu (Grand Elect Mason)
15° Knight of the East, or of the Sword
16° Prince of Jerusalem
17° Knight of the East and West
18° Knight of the Rose Croix (Knight of the Rose Croix of H.R.D.M.)
19° Grand Pontiff
20° Master of the Symbolic Lodge (Master ad Vitam)
21° Noachite or Prussian Knight (Patriarch Noachite)
22° Knight of the Royal Axe (also known as Prince of Libanus in both jurisdictions)
23° Chief of the Tabernacle
24° Prince of the Tabernacle
25° Knight of the Brazen Serpent
26° Prince of Mercy, or Scottish Trinitarian
27° Knight Commander of the Temple (Commander of the Temple)
28° Knight of the Sun, Prince Adept
29° Scottish Knight of St. Andrew
30° Knight Kadosh (Grand Elect Knight Kadosh)
31° Inspector Inquisitor (Grand Inspector Inquisitor Commander)
32° Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret
In the Southern Jurisdiction, a member who has been a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason for 46 months or more, is eligible to be elected to receive the "rank and decoration" of Knight Commander of the Court of Honour (K.C.C.H.) in recognition of outstanding service. After 46 months as a K.C.C.H. he is then eligible to be elected to the 33rd Degree.
33° Inspector General (In the Southern Jurisdiction a recipient of the 33rd Degree is called an "Inspector General." Most recipients, as honorary members of the Supreme Council, are designated "Inspectors General Honorary." Active members of the Supreme Council are designated "Sovereign Grand Inspectors General.")

Systems of Degrees

According to the various Scottish Rite jurisdictions in the world, all of which operate independently, the Scottish Rite degrees are worked at will by their governing bodies. For example the Southern Jurisdiction separates the degrees as follows:

This is slightly different in the Northern Jurisdiction:

The Supreme Council is the governing body of the Scottish Rite in the various jurisdictions, and charters all subordinate bodies. Members of the Supreme Council are chosen from among those members who have obtained the 33rd degree.

A Scottish Rite Mason does not have to be, nor have ever been, an officer of any rank in any lodge to be honored with the 33rd degree.

In Scotland, candidates are perfected in the 18th degree, with the preceding degrees awarded in name only. A minimum of a two-year interval is required before continuing to the 30th degree, again with the intervening degrees awarded by name only. Elevation beyond that is by invitation only, and numbers are severely restricted.

Similarly in England, the candidate is perfected in the 18th degree with the preceding degrees awarded in name only. Continuing to the 30th degree is restricted to those who have served in the chair of the Chapter. Elevation beyond the 30th degree is as it is in Scotland.

Description of Degrees

Knight of the Rose Croix

The lessons taught in this degree are the lessons of faith, hope and charity. The duties of a Knight of Rose Croix are to practice virtue, to labor to eliminate vice, and to be tolerant of the faith and creed of others. The symbols of the degree are those of the rose and cross, and the "pelican in her piety," that is, a nesting pelican plucking flesh from her breast to feed her young.[1]

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[citation needed], and that he must have a new law of love with all men everywhere may understand and practice. The degree affirms the broad principals of universality and toleration.

The origins of the symbol of the Rose and Cross, or the Rosy Cross are obscure. Its popularity in Europe was advanced through the appearance of the so-called Rosicrucian Manifestos of the early 17th century. Most scholars agree that their author was the German theologian Johann Valentin Andreae. The Rose and Cross as a symbol had been employed during the celebrations attendant to the 1613 marriage of Frederick V, Elector Palatine, to Princess Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of King James I of England. The symbol also appears in the arms of the German Reformation leader Martin Luther (1483-1546).

Around 1530, more than eighty years before the publication of the first Rosicrucian Manifesto, documented evidence of the cross and the rose already existed in Portugal in the Convent of the Order of Christ, home of the Knights Templar, which later was renamed Order of Christ.


In Paris in the year 1758, the "Grand Council of Emperors of the East and West" organized a "Rite of Perfection" consisting of 25 degrees, the highest being the "Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret." Many British expatriates, who were Scottish Jacobites and living in France at the time, took an active part in creating the rite and saw in its symbolism their political aspirations of a return of the Stuart kings to the thrones of England and Scotland[citation needed]. Because of its Catholic sympathies, it has been suggested that the Jesuits at the college of Clermont also had a hand in the formation of the Rite[citation needed].

A patent was granted to Etienne Morin on 17th August 1761 appointing him Deputy and Grand Inspector on behalf of the Grand Lodge of France and Sovereign Council of Knights of the East with powers to appoint Deputy Inspectors. In the West Indies he assumed powers to constitute lodges of all degrees. Despite this Morin subsequently spread the Rite to the West Indies and North America from the city of St. Domingo in the Dominican Republic. (Morin's first name was spelled "Estienne," and he signed it that way. As he was French, he settled not in the Spanish Dominican Republic, but in the French colony of St.-Domingue (pronounced "sant do-mong"), which is now Haiti.)

By 1783 the rite had grown to 33 degrees under Henry Andrew Francken.

Isaac De Costa, one of the deputies commissioned to establish the Rite in other countries, formed Scottish Rite bodies in South Carolina in 1783, which eventually became, in 1801, the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction. All extant Scottish Rite bodies derive their heritage from this body, directly or indirectly. In 1813 the Ancient and Accepted Rite, Northern Jurisdiction of the United States, was formed which subsequently patented the Rite in Europe with the grant of a patent to the Duke of Sussex in 1819. This patent was not utilised and it was not until 1845 that a second Patent was granted allowing the formation of a Supreme Council in England and Wales.

Controversy surrounding the Scottish Rite

In 1856 Albert Pike revised and re-issued the rituals in use in the Southern Jurisdiction, also illustrating his interpretations of his revised rituals in Morals and Dogma. These rituals and the interpretation in Morals and Dogma provide much of the source for criticism of Freemasonry as a whole, despite the factual inaccuracies. Pikes' revision of the ritual is not now in use in the Southern Jurisdiction[citation needed] and the level of use that it had throughout the Scottish Rite globally is unkown.

Scottish Rite Creed

The Scottish Rite Creed of Freemasonry as stated by the Supreme Council, 33°, S.J. USA, is as follows:

Human progress is our cause, liberty of thought our supreme wish, freedom of conscience our mission, and the guarantee of equal rights to all people everywhere our ultimate goal.[3]

See also



  1. ^ "A Bridge to Light," Rex R. Hutchens 33° G.C., The Supreme Council 33° S.J., 2001
  2. ^ "Progressive Steps in Masonry." Freemasonry and the Holy Bible, DeVore & Sons Inc., Heirloom Bible Publishers, Wichita, Kansas, 1991
  3. ^ Homepage of the AASR Supreme Council, 33°, S.J. USA accessed 27 March 2006