What is the Scottish Rite of
Brent Morris, 33°, Grand Cross
Director of Membership Development, Supreme Council, 33°, S.J., U.S.A.
1733 16th St., Washington, D.C. 20009–3103
Freemasonry is the world's oldest and largest fraternity. It evolved in the
British Isles during the 17th century and emerged as a formal organization in
1717 when the Premier Grand Lodge was formed in London. At that time, there
were only two levels of membership or Degrees, teaching simple
character-building lessons based upon the symbolism of stonemasons' tools. By
1730, the Third Degree was added in England, teaching further lessons of
morality based on allegories surrounding King Solomon's Temple. As the
Fraternity spread into Europe, and especially France, additional Degrees were
added onto the basic foundation, each expanding on the earlier symbolism and
offering further moral instruction.
By the 1760s, literally hundreds of Degrees, each typically a one-act play
with the Candidate in a central role, had been created and were competing for
Masons' time and energy. Some Degrees "grew up together" and
provided a cohesive progression of symbolism with a central administration.
Such systems of Degrees came to be knows as Rites. For example, in the United
States, the Royal Arch and Cryptic Degrees plus the Knights Templar Orders
are known as the York Rite.
Stephen Morin of Bordeaux, France, emigrated to
Jamaica in 1761 with authority to propagate the 25-Degree "Order of the
Royal Secret," which contained its own Royal Arch, Cryptic, Templar, and
other traditions. This system was spread throughout the United States, from
New Orleans, Louisiana, to Albany, New York, by Deputies appointed by Morin.
In 1801 in Charleston, South Carolina, the Order of the Royal Secret was
transformed into the 33-Degree Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of
The Scottish Rite has become today the largest and most widely practiced
Masonic Rite in the world. Its Degrees teach a series of moral lessons
culminating in the 32°, Master of the Royal Secret. The 33° is sparingly
conferred on its members in recognition of their service to humanity or to
Freemasonry. The Rite continues the tradition of Masons around the world in
improving themselves and their communities. It is a tradition that brings
pride to its members, and one we invite you to consider joining.
To Join The Scottish Rite
The path to becoming a Thirty-Second Degree Scottish Rite
Mason starts at your local Scottish Rite Bodies. Any Master Mason belonging
to a regular Symbolic Lodge is eligible to petition for the 4°–32° of the
Scottish Rite. Petitions can be obtained from a Scottish Rite Mason or from
the Secretary of the local Scottish Rite Center nearest to you. (Click
here for a map of all Scottish Rite Bodies with contact information.) You
can find a Scottish Rite Center's phone number in your "Yellow
Pages" telephone directory, usually under the
heading "Fraternal Organizations".
The petition is simple, basically requiring information about your Symbolic
Lodge and how to contact you. The initiation fee runs from $400 for all Valleys in Louisiana and must accompany the petition. Your
petition is reviewed by a committee, which may visit with you to explain the
Rite, and is presented to the membership at a meeting for a vote. After
election, you will take the Scottish Rite Degrees at a "Reunion,"
usually held twice a year, but you should confirm all details with the
Secretary of your local Scottish Rite Center.
If you are not a Master Mason, all you have to do is ask. In most states,
members are not allowed to ask you to become a Mason; thus, you must do the
asking. Just call the Lodge closest to you (check the "Yellow
Pages" telephone directory, usually under "Fraternal
Organizations"). Most Lodges meet in the early evening hours on a
weekday, so try calling between 6:00 and 7:30 pm. We have a link to the Grand Lodge of Louisiana under the links tab, they can help you find your nearest lodge and answer other questions.
Freemasonry is a lifelong journey of fellowship, philanthropy, fraternity,
S. Brent Morris
is Director of Membership Development for the Supreme Council, 33°, S.J.,
U.S.A. He retired from the federal government as a mathematician and has
taught at Duke and Johns Hopkins Universities. He is Past Master of Patmos
Lodge No. 70, Ellicott City, Maryland; a Fellow of the Philalethes
Society; Editor of Heredom, the transactions of
the Scottish Rite Research Society; and author of many scholarly articles
and books on the Craft. Ill. Morris is the only full member in the United
States of the world's premier Masonic Research Lodge, Quatuor
Coronati Lodge No. 2076, founded in London in
1886. During the 1999 Biennial Session, Illustrious Morris received the
Scottish Rite's highest honor, the Grand Cross.
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