The Scottish Rite in Freemasonry: Degrees, Organization, and its Relationship to Craft Freemasonry


Freemasonry, a fraternal organization with roots dating back centuries, has various branches and degrees that offer members the opportunity for further exploration and advancement within its ranks. One such branch is the Scottish Rite, an appendant body of Freemasonry that adds additional degrees and rituals to the traditional Craft Freemasonry. In this article, we will delve into the Scottish Rite, exploring its degrees, organization, and its relationship with Craft Freemasonry. We will also debunk some common myths associated with Scottish Rite Freemasonry.

Degrees in the Scottish Rite:
The Scottish Rite consists of 33 degrees, which are conferred through a series of rituals and ceremonies. Each degree explores philosophical and moral concepts, building upon the teachings found in the Craft Freemasonry. The degrees are divided into several series, including the Lodge of Perfection (4°-14°), the Council of Princes of Jerusalem (15°-16°), the Chapter of Rose Croix (17°-18°), the Council of Kadosh (19°-30°), and the Consistory (31°-32°). The 33rd degree is an honorary degree, bestowed upon individuals who have made significant contributions to Freemasonry or society as a whole.

Organization of the Scottish Rite:
The Scottish Rite is organized into governing bodies known as Supreme Councils, which oversee the administration and management of the Rite’s activities within a specific jurisdiction. Each Supreme Council is responsible for coordinating the Scottish Rite lodges, known as Valleys, within its jurisdiction. Valleys serve as local centers for Scottish Rite Masons, where they come together for meetings, ceremonies, and further education in the degrees.

In the UK and other Commonwealth Countries, the Order is referred to as The Ancient and Accepted Rite or more commonly “The Order of Rose Croix” and the thermology for lodge follows that of Craft Lodges, eg. The term Valleys is not used in the UK. For more on the UK Supreme Council, see here

Relationship to Craft Freemasonry:
Scottish Rite Freemasonry is an appendant body to Craft Freemasonry, meaning that it is an additional organization one can join after becoming a Master Mason in a Craft Lodge. The degrees conferred in the Scottish Rite build upon the foundational principles of Craft Freemasonry and offer members an opportunity for further exploration and personal growth within the fraternity. It is important to note that Scottish Rite Freemasonry does not supersede or replace Craft Freemasonry; instead, it complements and expands upon it.

Myths about Scottish Rite Freemasonry:

  1. “Scottish Rite Freemasonry is more superior or important than Craft Freemasonry.” This is a common misconception. While the Scottish Rite offers additional degrees and rituals, it does not rank higher or hold more authority than Craft Freemasonry. Both branches are integral parts of Freemasonry, offering members different avenues for personal and philosophical development.
  2. “Scottish Rite Freemasonry is a secret society with hidden agendas.” Freemasonry, including the Scottish Rite, is not a secret society. It is a fraternal organization that openly promotes its principles of brotherly love, charity, and moral growth. The rituals and ceremonies within the Scottish Rite are not secret; they are considered private and are only disclosed to members during their initiation.
  3. “Scottish Rite Freemasonry is involved in political or religious conspiracies.” Freemasonry, including the Scottish Rite, is a non-political and non-religious organization. It does not engage in political activities or promote specific religious beliefs. Freemasonry emphasizes personal integrity, ethical conduct, and the pursuit of knowledge and understanding.

The Scottish Rite is a fascinating branch of Freemasonry that offers members an opportunity for further advancement and exploration within the fraternity. Its degrees, rituals, and organization build upon the principles found in Craft Freemasonry, promoting personal growth, moral development, and the bonds of brotherhood. By debunking the myths surrounding Scottish Rite Freemasonry, we can better understand and appreciate the valuable contributions this branch makes to the broader Masonic community.