American Scottish Rite – Unexpressed Potential?

double headed eagleBy Bro. C.G.
32nd Scottish Rite Mason,
Valley of Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

I have often wondered the reasons why the Scottish Rite, one of the most complex, complete and fascinating initiatic systems of the Western tradition, is often compressed in a single two- or three day-Reunion in all, or most, to the best of my knowledge, Valleys in the United States. At a time when it was required to be a York or Scottish Rite Mason to be admitted into the Shrine, this probably made sense, although it deprived the Scottish Rite of part of the effectiveness of its ritual. This is not so anymore. Free from the constraints of allowing Masons to rush through its degrees, I believe it would greatly benefit the Scottish Rite and probably the whole of Freemasonry, if candidates were allowed to go through the degrees more gradually.

Freemasons in American Valleys have the rare chance of watching the degree work staged in beautiful halls and auditoriums and rendered with exquisite magnificence, costumes and scenography. I believe American Masons deserve more time to savor the Scottish Rite degrees and to better understand the lessons they heard during the Reunions. I know I would have wanted to be granted more time, when I was initiated to the SR in the US. I needed more time before passing on to the following degree. The amount of teachings that candidates are confronted with is so big that it is doubtful that they can retain everything they are presented. Would it not be better, for instance, to be conferred the degree of Secret Master during the first Reunion, to let the masonic path of the Scottish Rite commence with the gravity it deserves, without rushing?Then, at the following Reunions, maybe at intervals of at least one year, the degrees of Perfect Elu, Knight of Roise Croix, Knight of Kadosh and Master of the Royal Secret could be conferred, so to respectively complete the Lodge of Perfection, the Chapter, the Council and the Consistory. Actually, this is similar to what our brethren in my home country, Italy, do. I think it makes sense. I do not think many Masons would object to this new modus-operandi, because it would allow them to discover a wealth of new degrees that are usually just rushed through. It would allow them to attend meetings in the Lodge of Perfection, in the Chapter, the Council, the Consistory, and display their regalia. It would increase attendance to the SR Reunions, because whole classes would come back to receive the following degrees. It would make the study of the SR ritual and teachings easier, because it would be gradual, slower.

Besides, Masons are Traveling Men, and the goal of Freemasonry is to improve men, to make good men better by letting them progress, step by step, degree after degree, along a masonic path of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. Isn’t Freemasonry a journey? Why shorten it, then? By making it quicker we are not helping Freemasonry to achieve its goal, we are actually risking to hinder it and not fully appreciate its power. I think the Scottish Rite has the potential to help generate membership to Freemasonry, but this potential must be unleashed. The Scottish Rite can be on of the brightest gems of Freemasonry, and the power of its ritual could lead the way to attract new members to our Institution. However, as long as it is reined in by the constraints of short Reunions, I am afraid it will just be a shimmer in darker skies.

Posted in Sojourners and tagged , , .

A devoted student of the Western Mystery Traditions, Greg is a firm believer in the Masonic connections to the Hermetic traditions of antiquity, its evolution through the ages and into its present configuration as the antecedent to all contemporary esoteric and occult traditions. He is a self-called searcher for that which was lost, a Hermetic Hermit and a believer in “that which is above is so too below.” Read more about Greg Stewart.


  1. I agree. It’d be nice to see the more expressive and contemplative side of the degrees through shorter reunions, classified as you suggest.
    Your arguments and plan for the offering of the many degrees makes sense. I’ll be sure to mention this at our next SR meeting. Your analogy to the “traveling and progressive man” is thought-provoking…

  2. I am member of the Danisk freemasons order D:D:F:O: lodge nr 502 gree. 9
    I would wish to become em member of Scottish Rite, but the lodge are not in Denmark
    Can I de a long distance member by virtue of my high degree

  3. I am a mason from Canada. I’m very involved in the SR our valley. We do our degrees in 3 reunions spread out over the year. We run them for about 4 days at a time, and candidates go through 2-4 degrees per night. In the New Year, we do the lodge of Perfection degrees 4-14, Easter – Rose Croix 15-18 and October Consistory 19-32. We do not have a Council body. I find this is a very good way to run the degrees and offer the time for contemplation required. We have monthly meetings of the SR and we meet in the degree which was most recently performed. This gives us the time as new members to see each body and choose where we would like to direct our energy.

  4. Smilne, thank you!I would be very interested to know the reaction of the brethren at your next SR meeting!!

    Jay, I think this is great news,thank you for pointing that out. I think it’s a step in the right direction, although from what I understand it is a course, and the degrees are still conferred in one Reunion. I like the way you said it:
    It’s about the Journey and not the Destination. I think that nicely sums up what I meant.

  5. Arthur, I think Canada is offering an important example here. I would probably spread the degrees over the course of a few years, but even this way would be better than cramming them all in one Reunion

  6. I agree completely that the degrees are done too quickly. Anything acquired with such little time and effort will not likely be held as dear and valuable. Some of the most highly regarded acquisitions in a man’s life are those things that came only through the hardest of labors.

  7. I agree that most American Masons don’t give the Scottish Rite the respect it deserves

  8. If you want to see all 29 degrees of the Scottish Rite, Minneapolis Valley performs them twice a year plus a reunion class in addition to these two degree cycles. The degrees are performed in full form and with lighting and costumes. You can find out about the Valley here. I believe Minneapolis is one of the few Valleys left that performs all 29 in full form.

  9. Nick is correct. I heard at the welcoming Pizza dinner for prospective members at the temple in Minneapolis, that there are only about 6 temples that do all 29 degrees regularly in N. America. Minneapolis does them twice a year. They start again on August 25 (end on Dec 15) and I will take the plunge.

  10. I’m a member of the SR (Scottish Constitution) here in Australia. From what I’ve read it varies greatly from your practice in the US. We don’t actually actively work any of the degree’s 4-17, when you join the SR here you go in at the Prince Rose Croix degree. Infact it’s often referred to as ‘the 18th’, then the 19-29 degree’s the same applies only the 30, 31, 32, and 33* are worked.

    We confer the degree’s where they aren’t worked in a small reading, however they are worked occasionally one at a time for demonstrations. I believe the English or Australia constitutions work it the same way as the Scottish constitution, who also exist here in Australia.

    Interesting article.


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