Over the years there have been many misconceptions about the purpose, requirements and operations of Scottish Rite Freemasonry.
You have heard such statements as -- “It is very expensive to become a member.” -- "It takes years to become a 32° member.” -- “A candidate must learn a multitude of signs and words.” -- “You must wait for an invitation to join.”
The following information has been prepared in brief question and answer form with the intention of not only dispelling such misunderstandings but to furnish added information to Master Masons seeking “more light”.
Supreme Council 33°
A.&A.S.R. of Canada
Questions and Answers about the Scottish Rite
What is the Scottish Rite?
It is a branch of Freemasonry designed to supplement and amplify the philosophical teachings of the first three degrees.
How does the Scottish Rite elaborate on the Craft lodge degrees?
It presents in degrees from the fourth to the thirty-second an interpretation of the lessons of the Craft degrees by the use of drama and lectures appealing to both the ear and eye to teach the great truths which Freemasonry professes.
How many degrees are there in the Scottish Rite?
Thirty-three including the Craft degrees. However the Craft degrees are accepted as conferred by the Grand Lodges. The Thirty-third is conferred directly by Supreme Council, the governing Body of the Rite.
What about the other degrees?
The fourth to the fourteenth inclusive are conferred by Lodges of Perfection. The fifteenth to the eighteenth inclusive are conferred by Rose Croix Chapters. The nineteenth to the thirty-second inclusive are conferred by Consistories. Each Lodge, Chapter and Consistory is an organized Body within the Valley (geographical area) served by it.
Why are these degrees called Scottish Rite?
Any connection with Scotland would seem to be vague. The reason may be that one or two of the degrees were long supposed to have been devised by the Chevalier Andrew Michael Ramsay, a learned Scotsman, who was tutor to Prince Charles Edward, the young Pretender. These degrees seem to have afforded a meeting place for those in exile in France who were adherents of the Stuarts, and who were plotting for the restoration of James II and his son to the throne of England. No degree of the Scottish Rite seems to have ever had its origin in Scotland.
What is the general field covered by each of the groups of degrees?
Lodge of Perfection: The fourth to the fourteenth degrees amplify the legend of the Master Mason degree and the story of the building of King Solomon's Temple. These degrees are designed to impress more forcefully the teachings of the first three degrees. In all Lodges of Perfection the 4th, 5th, 7th 13th and 14th degrees are obligatory, and are conferred in full: the others, if not in full, are communicated by obligation and explanation.
Rose Croix Chapter: The fifteenth and sixteenth degrees relate to the rebuilding of the Temple of Zerubbabel. In our Canadian rituals of the seventeenth and eighteenth degrees we teach the Christian philosophy. The eighteenth degree is supplemented by beautiful Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday Ceremonies. The fifteenth and eighteenth degrees are obligatory.
Consistory: Several of the degrees of the Consistory series, nineteenth to thirty-second, further amplify the teachings of the previous degrees, others have the Crusades as a background. The 30th, 31st and 32nd are obligatory.
Is it improper to solicit any Master Mason to join the Scottish Rite?
No. One should have no hesitation in inviting a Brother to delve further into the teachings of Masonry, thus providing a more meaningful life for himself and his family.
Are Scottish Rite degrees higher than those of a Master Mason?
There is no Masonic distinction of higher prestige than that of a "Master Mason", and the noblest and most significant emblem is the Apron of the Master Mason.
What are the qualifications required for membership?
Membership in good standing in Craft Lodge. A belief in a Supreme Being is essential, and of course the usual Masonic conditions of residence, sponsors, investigation and ballot.
Will I be required to do any memorizing?
No. You witness the ceremonies and drama and listen to the illustrative lectures. In order for you to more fully understand and appreciate what you have seen and heard you are expected to attend future presentations of the degrees.
Are there any religious disqualifications?
No. The Scottish Rite does not intrude on the religious beliefs of its members, but it does require that its adherents profess a belief in a Supreme Being, and urges its members to be active in their respective churches. It does not attempt to teach any creed nor pretend to be a religion nor a substitute for religion. Scottish Rite practices universality.
What will it cost?
Minimum initiation fees have been established by Supreme Council, but each Lodge, Chapter and Consistory fixes its own fees. Each Body also requires annual dues as fixed by its by-laws. Some Bodies also have a provision in their by-laws permitting a member to prepay his dues for the life of his membership in that Body. That is known as a commutation of dues.
Will I have an opportunity to participate in the various activities of the Rite?
If you make known your wishes you may expect to be invited to participate in the Work. There is a place for you in many of the degree presentations depending on your talents and experience and your own wishes: as a guard, as a member of the choir, or as a member of the wardrobe committee, the stage crew or make-up team. You can be an actor in a minor, intermediate or major role as your talents permit. There is also the possibility of being on the reception committee or to be an Officer of the Body.
When will I be entitled to wear the Scottish Rite ring?
You will be entitled to wear the Scottish Rite ring only after receiving the fourteenth degree.
After becoming a member of Scottish Rite will I be permitted or required to take my demit from my Craft lodge?
No. Termination of membership in a Craft Lodge, for any reason, automatically terminates your membership in Scottish Rite.
What is a reunion?
It is the practice in most Valleys to hold a Reunion of the members once or twice a year, when all the degrees of the Lodge, Chapter or Consistory are conferred or communicated on a class of candidates over a period of a few days. This gives an opportunity for some social fellowship and it is also more convenient for the members living some distance from the meeting place.
What are the Easter Ceremonies?
In the Rose Croix Chapter, these ceremonies constitute a solemn observance every year of the Passover or Paschal Supper on Maundy Thursday in Holy week, and then on Easter Sunday an inspiring observance of the Resurrection.
How is the Scottish Rite governed in Canada?
By a Supreme Council composed of the Sovereign Grand Commander, all Past Sovereign Grand Commanders, all Active Members (not exceeding 33 in number) and all Past Active Members (without a vote). This group determines the policies of the Subordinate Bodies. Associated with it are a number of Honorary Members of the Rite in the Jurisdiction of a Province or group of Provinces. These men have been so honoured because of their contributions of services to Scottish Rite and to their country, their church or society.
How is this Supreme Council organized?
The Supreme Council is organized by a slate of Officers as follows:
Sovereign Grand Commander
Lieutenant Grand Commander
Deputies of the Provinces
Grand Master of Ceremonies
Grand Standard Bearer
Grand Captain of the Guard
Grand Sword Bearer
There is one Deputy for each of the Provinces of New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba and Nunavut, Saskatchewan, Alberta, North West Territories, Yukon Territories and British Columbia. There are four Deputies for Ontario, and one for the group of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Does Scottish Rite support any specific charitable endeavour?
Yes. Since being incorporated 1964, the Scottish Rite Charitable Foundation (SRCF) of Canada has been funding medical research in universities and hospitals across Canada into ‘puzzles of the mind’, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neuro-degenerative ailments in the aging population and areas such as Dyslexia and Autism in children. Each year the SRCF donates approximately $400,000 to qualified researchers to continue their essential and worthwhile research.
In addition, the Foundation assists local organizations (Valleys) in starting Learning Centres for Dyslexic Children. These Centres provide free tutoring for children to help them overcome their reading difficulties and by training a growing cadre of highly skilled and dedicated tutors. Learning Centres have been licensed and are operational in London, Halifax, Windsor, Vancouver, Moncton and Barrie, with a new Centre coming to Edmonton. The Calgary Centre is now operational.
For more information on the Foundation click here.