LESSONS OF THE SCOTTISH RITE DEGREES
LODGE OF PERFECTION
“The Ineffable Degrees”
4° Master Traveler.This became a new provisional degree in 2004 and is a required presentation at all reunions. It is an overview of all degrees and an introduction to the Scottish Rite Journey of every candidate. It introduces the concept of a Scottish Rite Passport, first developed in the Valley of Danville, and now featured throughout the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. This degree teaches that being a Scottish Rite Mason is a lifelong journey of personal development. Primary author of the degree is James L. Tungate, 33°, Active Resident of the Valley of Danville.
5° Perfect Master. This degree teaches that trustworthiness is more precious than life and is the foundation of Masonic Honor. It also teaches that due respect should be paid to the memory of a Masonic brother. The 5° comes form Leviticus 10. In the Scripture, the two sons of Aaron, motivated by desire for wealth and power, neglect the Sacred flame. The lesson focuses on the “strange fire” offered by the two sons and their death as a result of their sin. One interpretation is that attempting to usurp power not belonging to an individual and irreverence toward the Supreme Architect of the Universe will lead to destruction.
6° Master of the Brazen SerpentThis degree teaches that devotion to one’s friends and zealousness in performing one’s duties are rewarding virtues. The Degree of Brazen Serpent reminds all of the frail state of human trust. We must learn to trust in the all-powerful God. The lesson stresses that all of mankind gifts and talents are nothing without faith in the Almighty.
7° Provost and Judge. This degree teaches to judge righteously and treat all equally, regardless who that person may be. Let justice be impartial, tempered with deserved mercy. In both the Old and New Testament, justice and forgiveness are emphasized. One must be honest in their every day life and Masons are charged to live their lives at a standard higher that others. The story is of two friends who are co-workers, but are very different. One is a man who is known for his craftsmanship and hard work. The other is able to do good work, but does not. The hard worker earns more and is able to support his family while the other is not. The weaker of character becomes jealous and claims the work of his friend. Seven judges are chosen to determine what should happen as a result. The weaker man, faced with the truth, admits his actions and the other, exhibiting mercy, forgives him.
8° Intendant of the Building. This degree teaches that each new honor is meant to be a step towards perfection in the moral code; each a development of a particular duty; and that benevolence and charity are necessary virtues of leadership. The allegory of the 8° and the Bible story of how Solomon became King illustrate great lessons for today in the use and misuse of power and trust.
9° Master of the Temple.The lessons taught in this degree are that we should be careful not to be too zealous in executing justice, even in good cause, and that we should avoid injuring or harming any person by hasty or irresponsible action. This degree centers on the completion of King Solomon’s Temple to God on the day of dedication. Unlike the Bible, it refers to the inclusion of representatives of all the major theologies of the world. The lesson emphasizes that each person has the right to choose for himself what he will believe. This teaches that a true Mason adopts a philosophy of respect for beliefs of other men, and to do so, strengthen his own faith.
10° Master Elect. The teachings of this degree are that ambition and jealously can tempt men to evil deeds, that righteousness will eventually triumph over evil, and that evil doers will be punished. This degree focuses on Solomon’s weakness. Women, many women and his pride and arrogance lead to Solomon, a wise man, being betrayed by his own desires. Solomon, who is credited with authoring the Song of Songs (Solomon), Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, is also reported to have had 700 wives and 300 concubines!
11° Sublime Master Elected. This degree concerns good citizenship. Evil doings should be punished. Honesty and respect for others should be rewarded. Be earnest, honest and sincere. The allegory focuses on corruption in office, but illustrates how lack of ethics and corruption can eat away at not only an individual’s moral fiber, but also a society or organization. This is the story of the tax collector who violated trust and extorted large sums of money from the citizens. The collector thought that since he was far away from the seat of government, no one would discover his evil doing. The message is that eventually the truth will be known and trust is one of the highest attributes a person can have.
12° Master of Mercy.This degree teaches that the Mason, as he learns to use the tools and instruments of his trade and skill, also learns to contemplate the many aspects of life and deal with them as a child of God, steady and advancing to those heights of experience, which we call “Perfection.” This degree is based on the Old Testament story of Joseph, Genesis 37 to 50. It is the well known story of a young man, a favorite of his Father, who suffers by the actions of his brothers. Although they were jealous and treated him very poorly, he forgave them, although he had the power to destroy them. Guilt forces people to live in fear and uncertainty, which prevents them from reaching “Perfection”.
13° Master of the Ninth Arch. This degree teaches that difficulties and dangers should not deter the true and faithful Brother from progressing onward to Perfection. It teaches the great truth that the finest things in life come only as the result of constant and often painful effort. In this degree, King Solomon sends three craftsmen to find artifacts from an ancient temple on the very grounds of Solomon’s new temple. The three find evidence of the temple and face great danger as they pursue their quest. They rely on their faith in God and their willingness to face risks in their search for the Truth. They reach the Ninth Arch where they make a precious discovery. Some say the Symbolism of this degree is about making the discovery of the very existence of God. As the craftsmen descended into the earth, so must we descend to the depths of our hearts and allow ourselves to put away our earthy cares and see the face of God. Facing adversity leads to a strengthening of faith and love of God.
14° Grand Elect Mason. In the Scottish Rite, this degree is the summit of Ancient Craft Masonry which began with the First through Third Degrees. As the crowning degree of the Lodge of Perfection, its essence is the holiness of God and reverence for his Holy Name. God will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain. Genesis 2 states man was created in the image of God and as such we are his chosen. This degree takes place in a Lodge Room with various items found in the sacred temple of Solomon. This reminds the candidate and member that the Lodge Room is a place of honor and should be respected. The items or elements from the Temple are to teach man about God’s covenant with us. Deeply religious, but not stressing any particular Creed, the 14° calls each man into a covenant with God and his fellow members.
COUNCIL PRINCES OF JERUSALEM
“The Historical Degrees”
15° Knight of the East.This degree teaches the important lesson of loyalty to conviction and devotion to right. In this degree, Cyrus receives a vision from God. Daniel is called to interpret it. When the test comes, honor and integrity are chosen over wealth and success. One must be loyal to one’s convictions; one must show fidelity to one’s duty; and one must be devoted to the truth.
16° The Prince of Jerusalem. This degree teaches loyalty to truth and fidelity to duty. The source of this degree is the Apocrypha, the “hidden“, or “lost” books of the Bible which covers the time from the close of Malachi to the New Testament. Three of King Darius’ bodyguards propose a debate to entertain the King, who was suffering from insomnia. He liked the idea and a debate was held at the King’s Banquet. They debate the power of wine, the power of Kings, and the power of women. However, Zerubbabel argues for the ultimate power of truth. The lesson is that a Mason must live for truth; for God is the ultimate truth.
GEORGE E. BUROW CHAPTER OF ROSE CROIX
“The Philosophical Degrees”
17° Knight of the East and West. The lessons of this degree are that loyalty to God is man’s primary allegiance, and the temporal governments not founded on God and his righteousness will inevitably fall. King Solomon’s Temple is finally rebuilt, but that second Temple is defiled by King Herod. The Temple is abandoned as the faithful seek new meaning beyond material walls.
18° Knight of the Rose Croix of H.R.D.M. The lessons taught in this degree are that man must have a new temple in his heart where God is worshiped in spirit and one truth. He must have a new law of love which all men everywhere may understand and practice. This degree affirms the broad principles of universality and tolerance. This is frequently described as the spiritual center of Scottish Rite, in a centuries old degree centered on Jesus of Nazareth as an example.
“The Traditional & Chivalric Degrees”
19° Brothers of the Trail.This degree, rewritten entirely in 2010, takes place at Register Cliff near Guernsey, Wyoming. Pioneers who travelled the Oregon Trail used knives to carve their names on Register Cliff’s massive sandstone wall. Many of these markings have stood the test of time and remain legible today. Travelers considered the site an important stopon their journeys because it allowed them to inform those who followed that they had survived until that point. Unfortunately, some who stopped at Register Cliff made the site their final resting place. Those who perished there used Register Cliff to ensure that they would not pass away without a trace. This degree tells a compelling story about the importance of fellowship, integrity and keeping promises. Principal author of the degree is James L. Tungate, 33°, Active Resident of the Valley of Danville.
20° Master Ad Vitam. This degree, commonly referred to as the “George Washington Degree” is a drama of the American Spirit confronting the challenge of disloyalty and treason. Masonic principles and leadership are subjected to a crucial test. The degree demonstrates the Masonic condemnation of all who conspire against the security of this nation and the happiness of our people. Several well-known historical characters, such as George Washington, Marquis De Lafayette, and several British Masons are portrayed at an American Lodge meeting.
21° Patriarch Noachite. This degree teaches that Freemasonry is not a shield for evil doing and that justice is one of the chief supports of the fraternity. The degree portrays a meeting of the Grand Chapter of Patriarch Noachites, the successors of a Secret Society known in the Middle Ages as the Holy Vehme. Kings, Princes Potentates, and Chivalric Knights were leagued together in this Grand Chapter in order to punish crime, reward virtue, render protection to the innocent, and aid and assist the needy and afflicted.
22° Prince of Libanus. In this degree, referred to as the “Singing Degree”, the dignity of labor is demonstrated. It is no curse, but a privilege, for man to be allowed to earn his sustenance by work. Idleness, not labor, is disgraceful.
23° Knight of Valor. This degree teaches that impure thoughts and selfish, unworthy ambitions are corrupting and destructive, and that a man who forgets his duty to family, country, and God will be morally and spiritually destroyed. Commonly referred to as the “Four Chaplain’s Degree”, this degree is based on the tragedy of the loss of four Chaplains on the U.S.A.T. Dorchester during World War II.
24° Brother of the Forest. This degree teaches that a mutual belief in one true, living God should bind men together in the service of humanity and in a worldwide brotherhood. The “Indian Degree” exposes the misunderstandings between the white man and the red man through the petition of an American Indian to a Masonic Lodge.
25° Master of Achievement. This degree teaches that there are desert stretches in every individual life in the history of every nation, with a resultant breakdown of discipline and loss of faith. This degree is a clarion call to faith – in ourselves, in each other, and in God. Utilizing the format of the television show, “This Is Your Life”,the “Benjamin Franklin Degree” centers on the life of one of our country’s greatest scientists and Masons.
26° Friend and Brother Eternal.This Degree teaches us that partisan strife, even when it descends to the level of armed conflict, does not dissolve our obligations as Masons. There is a second lesson to be learned. The virtues of brotherhood give rise to the practice of good citizenship.
27° Knight of Jerusalem. This degree teaches that Scottish Rite Free Masonry believes in the concept of a free church in a free state, each supreme in its own sphere, neither seeking to dominate the other, but cooperating for the common good. There is also a secondary lesson, the importance of full communication, or better yet, the lack thereof, between leaders of our community, country, or the world.
28° Knight of the Sun. This degree, using the symbolism of the tools and implements of architecture teaches that by building high moral character among its adherents, Freemasonry may advance man’s determined quest for the achievement of unity and goodwill throughout the world. It shows the Fraternity in transition during the seventeenth century from an operative craft guild to a speculative moral science.
29° Knight of Sir Andrew. This degree emphasizes the Masonic teachings of equality and toleration. We are reminded that no one man, no one Church, no one religion, has a monopoly of truth; that while we must be true and faithful to our own convictions, we must respect the opinions of others.
30° Grand Inspector. This degree sets forth the tests and ceremonies that symbolize the experiences we must undergo in the building of excellence in character.
31° Knight Aspirant. This degreedescribes the victory of the spiritual over the human in man and the conquest of appetites and passions by moral sense and reason. The exemplar represents every Freemason eager to serve humanity, but caught between self interest and the call of duty. Duty often requires sacrifice, sometimes the supreme sacrifice.
32° Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret. This degree completes the Scottish Rite journey begun in the the Fourth Degree with the candidate Hiram and The Guide introducing you to the last earned degree in Scottish Rite Masonry. This degree was approved by the Supreme Council in 2011 as an experiment, with the Valley of Danville being one of the selected sites for its presentation. Principal author of the degree is James L. Tungate, 33, Resident Active of the Valley of Danville , who has recombined the current 31st and 32nd degrees back into one, as they have been traditionally. They are unified, however, as a play within a play as we rediscover Constans, who was seen alone at the altar in the 4th, now undergoing the trials of knighthood to become a Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret. Through him we learn the final important lessons of Masonry, set within the context of Scottish Rite’s patriotic ceremonial conclusion. Candidates will receive Passport credit for both 31 and 32 degrees at the conclusion of this drama.
The 33rd Degree
Achieving the 33° is an honor that can be bestowed upon a Scottish Rite Mason. It is not campaigned for. It is granted solely by the Supreme Council.
A 33° Mason is a Master Mason who has exhibited knowledge, passion and sacrifice to his craft.
The Supreme Council awards the 33° as a way of honoring outstanding and selfless work performed in the Rite or in public life. At its annual session the Supreme Council elects members of the Rite to receive the degree. Members unanimously so elected become Honorary Members of the Supreme Council.