The Scottish Rite of Freemasonry
What is the Scottish Rite?
The Scottish Rite is a Masonic organization that continues a Master Mason’s education of the first three degrees in Freemasonry. The Scottish Rite consists of the 4°–32° and an honorary 33°, which is awarded for exceptional service.
What is the Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organization. It teaches self-knowledge through participation in a progression of ceremonies. Members are expected to be of high moral standing and are encouraged to speak openly about Freemasonry.
Is Freemasonry a religion?
No. While it is a requirement that each member believe in a Supreme Being, it is not important how one expresses that very personal belief. Further, there is no dogmatic system in Freemasonry. However, confusion about the secular nature of Freemasonry has been a common misconception for many years. Most likely, this misconception is due to the Holy Book that sits on the altar in the middle of a Masonic lodge. This Holy Book does not have to be Christian, like the Bible, rather it can be any Holy Book that is important to the members of the lodge. In the U.S. where the population is mostly Christian, the Holy Book most often used in Lodges is the King James Version of the Bible.
Is Freemasonry or the Scottish Rite a secret society?
Absolutely not, the Scottish Rite and other forms of Freemasonry operate very much in the open with many events open to the public. There are “modes of recognition” (passwords and handshakes) that represent a Mason’s ability to keep a promise.
Does one have to be Scottish to join the Scottish Rite?
No. The Scottish Rite degrees actually originated in France and were based on legends that came from Scotland, so “Scottish” is in name only.
How many people belong to the Scottish Rite?
There are about 1.7 million Masons in the United States and about 550,000 of those are Scottish Rite Masons.
What do all the symbols mean?
There are simply too many symbols used in Masonry to explain them all, but probably the most common symbol people see is the square and compasses. The square reminds Masons to “square” their actions by the “square of virtue,” and the compasses remind them to “circumscribe” their passions. In other words, Masons are reminded to keep their actions virtuous and their passions in control. Additionally, in the U.S. there is usually a “G” in the middle of the square and compass symbol. This letter stands for “geometry” and “God” and reminds Masons that geometry was central to the stone mason’s life as God should be to his.
What is the purpose of the hats?
If the apron is a badge of a Mason in Blue Lodge, the cap can be said to be the public badge of a Scottish Rite Mason. It is considered a part of the uniform and the different colors indicate the degree of the wearer. (black – 32nd, red – KCCH, white – 33˚)
For more information, please visit the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry website at www.scottishrite.org.
For more information on Freemasonry, please visit the Grand Lodge of Washington website at www.freemason-wa.org.